A novel method for calculating ambient aerosol liquid water content based on measurements of a humidified nephelometer system

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Abstract

Water condensed on ambient aerosol particles plays significant roles in atmospheric environment, atmospheric chemistry and climate. Before now, no instruments were available for real-time monitoring of ambient aerosol liquid water contents (ALWCs). In this paper, a novel method is proposed to calculate ambient ALWC based on measurements of a three-wavelength humidified nephelometer system, which measures aerosol light scattering coefficients and backscattering coefficients at three wavelengths under dry state and different relative humidity (RH) conditions, providing measurements of light scattering enhancement factor f (RH). The proposed ALWC calculation method includes two steps: the first step is the estimation of the dry state total volume concentration of ambient aerosol particles, Va(dry), with a machine learning method called random forest model based on measurements of the "dry" nephelometer. The estimated Va(dry) agrees well with the measured one. The second step is the estimation of the volume growth factor Vg(RH) of ambient aerosol particles due to water uptake, using f (RH) and the Ångström exponent. The ALWC is calculated from the estimated Va(dry) and Vg(RH). To validate the new method, the ambient ALWC calculated from measurements of the humidified nephelometer system during the Gucheng campaign was compared with ambient ALWC calculated from ISORROPIA thermodynamic model using aerosol chemistry data. A good agreement was achieved, with a slope and intercept of 1.14 and -8.6 μm3 cm-3 (r2 =0.92), respectively. The advantage of this new method is that the ambient ALWC can be obtained solely based on measurements of a three-wavelength humidified nephelometer system, facilitating the real-time monitoring of the ambient ALWC and promoting the study of aerosol liquid water and its role in atmospheric chemistry, secondary aerosol formation and climate change.

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Kuang, Y., Zhao, C. S., Zhao, G., Tao, J. C., Xu, W., Ma, N., & Bian, Y. X. (2018). A novel method for calculating ambient aerosol liquid water content based on measurements of a humidified nephelometer system. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 11(5), 2967–2982. https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-2967-2018

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